November 2014 archive

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe – Calling All Left Overs

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with saladAh, Thanksgiving left overs. They are as coveted as the big meal itself. But what to do with all of those leftovers in one easy and delicious recipe? Enter the Thanksgiving Pot Pie – not to be confused with a turkey pot pie.

Awhile back I mentioned that Curt lurrrves chicken pot pie. Well, this baby just about tops them all. And the best part is that if you’ve made Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you have all of the ingredients on hand.

With all of my recipes and cooking, I use organic ingredients when possible. This year I bought two organic turkeys for Thanksgiving (Curt smoked one on our green egg and I cooked one in the oven). Ever buy an organic turkey? If you have, you’ll know why I am using every part of the turkey (ahem, I have 7 quarts of turkey stock). Those babies are expensive!! I managed to make almost all of the Thanksgiving meal organic, which means this pot pie is also organic. Ok, stepping off soap box now.

First, I started with a deep dish pie pan to make this recipe. I set it on top of a sheet pan in case the juicy deliciousness of the pie decided to escape while cooking. I don’t want to clean up the bottom of my oven and I doubt you do either.

Deep Dish Pie Plate

Then I got the pie crust I had made earlier in the morning out of the refrigerator. I recently discovered this Sour Cream Pastry Crust. I used the sweet version for my pumpkin pies and the savory version (minus the sugar) for this Thanksgiving Pot Pie. If making pie crust is not your thing, buy one at the grocery store and you’ll be good to go. You need two crusts. Roll them flat and put one in the pie pan and set one off to the side.

Pie Dough

Don’t be afraid of pie dough! It takes some practice but it’s not that difficult.

The pie is filled with left overs and topped with gravy. I didn’t have enough left over gravy (so I thought), so I made some out of the extra turkey stock I had from the initial round of gravy making. Confused. I may be. Three tablespoons of flour, three tablespoons of butter and about 2-cups of stock are what I used.

Turkey Gravy

I used homemade turkey stock for yummy gravy.

Next, I rounded up my ingredients. This is where it will vary, depending on what you have left over. I had stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course, turkey. I cut the beans to about 1-inch pieces and I made sure the pieces of turkey were bite size. I’m reasonably sure most savory left overs would taste wonderful in the pie. Curt asked if I could put pumpkin pie in it, and I politely dismissed his suggestion.

Thanksgiving left overs make great pie ingredients

I used stuffing, green beans, turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes in my Thanksgiving Pot Pie.

Time to assemble! I put a layer of cranberry sauce on the bottom. It’s a nice little surprise and I think even people that don’t like cranberry with appreciate the mouthwatering zing. Next I layered turkey, stuffing and beans.

Layer ingredients in the Thanksgiving Pot Pie

I gently pushed each ingredient down to make sure the pie wouldn’t be 12″ tall!

I poured the gravy over the pie and topped with mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie

The last layer of pie is mashed potatoes. If you wanted to make this more shepard’s pie style, you could stop here and not top with pie crust.

Finally, I put the second pie crust on top. Before I did this, I brushed the bottom edges of the pie with egg wash to use as glue to make sure the top stuck. I fluted the edges together to make sure they were sealed and brushed more egg wash all over the pie. Be sure to cut vents in the pie. I had a little piece of dough left so I made a crude looking leaf of some sort and stuck it in the center.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Uncooked

I think it weighed 6 pounds before cooking!

I baked this baby for about an hour and 15 minutes. I saw some of the gravy bubbling out of the side and I knew it was done.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Cooked

Yes, this looks impressive!

I let it rest for 10 minutes before serving with a salad. Oh, and I topped with giblet gravy left over from Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with salad

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 8
Ingredients
  • 2 deep dish pie crusts
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup turkey
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup stuffing / dressing
  • 2 cups turkey gravy
  • 1½ cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 organic egg
Directions
  1. Roll out both pie crusts. Put one inside the pie dish and set the other aside.
  2. Add ingredients in layers: cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, green beans, gravy and mashed potatoes.
  3. Beat the egg and brush onto the edges of the bottom crust.
  4. Cover with the second pie crust.
  5. Crimp edges together.
  6. Brush top of pie with egg wash.
  7. Cut vents in the top.

 

My Preschooler Cannot Sleep without Me

Sleeping

If only J would sleep like this for 10 hours straight!

Like every parent, I think my child can (mostly) do no wrong. She’s smart, funny, well-mannered and good looking just like her mom and dad. <grin> But I have to admit, she has one major flaw. J is a horrible sleeper.

I think it is partially a product of her environment, well, me mostly…and how I didn’t “sleep train” her when she was a baby. Oh, and I refuse to sleep train her now. However, sometimes Curt tells me that he was awake part of the night and I know I wake up too, so I also blame genetics. The difference is since we’re adults, we can usually put ourselves back to sleep without disturbing anyone else.

Sleeping Baby

J is less than a week old and sleeping in a bouncer while I eat dinner.

Ever since J was born, she’s slept on or near me every night, save for the two glorious nights I escaped last month and went to Vegas. If you’re counting that would be one thousand three hundred and seventy three nights of me sleeping next to my child.

For the first six weeks of her life, we both slept in a giant comfy brown chair with an ottoman. When I put her in the cradle next to our bed she would immediately wake up and cry. I wanted to minimize the disrupttion to Curt’s sleep since he was going to work everyday and needed to be a functional human outside of the house. Besides, J loved to be held all of the time (even when asleep), and truth be told, I didn’t want to put her down. Even though her cord was cut, she was still tethered to me.

We bought a Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper and that was a miracle – cue the angels singing falsetto and the sun shining through the clouds. I was finally able to sleep in my bed again and my baby was right next to me! I breastfeed her for almost three and a half years (yes, years) and the co-sleeper helped to facilitate night-time feedings when she was an infant.

Baby in Crib

Before I tried to get J to sleep in the crib, I used to let her lay it in. Yeah, that didn’t work.

As she got older we moved her crib into the bedroom but she wouldn’t sleep there for more than a few hours at a time. She would wake up, I would nurse her and one of two things happened: We both fell asleep in the brown comfy chair until it was time for her to wake up and want to nurse again; or I would manage to stay awake through her feeding, put her back in the crib and then she would wake up, cry and we would start all over again a couple hours later.

Before J was born, Curt and I agreed that we would not co-sleep. How hard can it be? Lay the baby down and she falls asleep. Oh the naivete! Once she was born I wanted to do it and he still didn’t. What’s that about never saying never?

By this time J had outgrown the cosleeper so the next solution was to side car the crib to the bed. Since she was older and more mobile, she would end up snuggled next to me (in our bed) most of the time. So basically, I had extra room to stretch out my legs on her crib but she wasn’t really sleeping in it. I was a magnet and J was (and still is) my iron.

Toddler sleeping on mom

This is how J loves to sleep…on me.

After many months of sleeping this way, we decided J was old enough to move into her own room. She was a few months past her second birthday when this occurred. Her awesome crib (by Romina Furniture) converts to a full size frame so we bought an organic mattress and set everything up. One small problem is that our master bedroom is on the first floor and all of the other bedrooms are on the second floor. Did we want our two year old to tumble down the stairs in the middle of the night while she was looking for us? Of course not!

The first couple nights sucked. Oh, have I mentioned that I also nursed her to sleep? Whoops, wouldn’t want to let that little factoid slip by. So back to sucking, literally. I would lay in the bed, nurse her to sleep, get up and go about my night. She would usually wake up 30 minutes later and I would start all over. If she managed to stay asleep by the time I was tired, then I would crawl into my own bed with the baby monitor on full-blast, paranoid that I wouldn’t hear her call out for me. I envisioned her falling down the stairs even though we had a very secure baby gate in place.

After a few nights of this routine, I basically gave in and slept in her bed. That was a pretty sly way for Curt to get the Cal King size bed all to himself!

Co-sleeping with a foot in my chin

This really happened last year and it wasn’t comfortable.

Fast forward a year and J has stopped nursing. She came to the end naturally and I am very proud of this. I also placed a lot of hope in the fact that once she stopped nursing she’d sleep independently. What, me wrong, again?! Instead of nursing to sleep, now she cuddles to sleep. While this is super adorable and makes me feel needed, I cannot continue to spoon her until she goes to college. I want out of her bed and back into my own.

I was still looking for a solution to the problem until last week, when J asked for the singing Elsa doll. I don’t know what inspired me to bargain with her, but I said she could have it if she cuddled Elsa to sleep instead of me. AND, she had to sleep all night by herself.

Smart little thing that she is, of course she said yes!

Lo and behold, it actually worked…the first night. It took her forever to fall asleep, but she did it on her own and stayed in bed until 6:30am the next morning. Time to uncork the champagne and celebrate!

Well, not so fast. The second night she also fell asleep on her own. Make no mistake, it was not without effort. She either got out of bed every five minutes or I went into her room every five minutes because she called for me. Then the little bugger woke up every few hours. But I persevered and only went in her room to tell her to cuddle Elsa and then I left. No slacking off and crawling into bed with my cuddle bug! It worked, but was a lot more tiring then just sleeping in her bed. The third night I sat at the end of her bed while she fell asleep and then I was in and out of her room all night again.

Then she caught a cold and all bets were off. I’m now again sleeping in her room all night so she doesn’t wake up and freak out. She’s just starting to get over the hacking cough so I’m going to see if she’ll sleep on her own. Wish me luck.

How to Remove Silly Putty from Clothes…and Ruin Them

Silly Putty

Silly Putty – Friend or Foe?

I now have a love hate relationship with silly putty. Until a couple weeks ago I thought it was a miracle toy. I keep an “egg” of it in my purse and occasionally I give it to J when we’re at a restaurant. It costs $1 at Target and it keeps her occupied the WHOLE ENTIRE MEAL. I do not lie. Amazing, right?

I even gave it to her when we went to Italy and she was just over three years old. We’ve never had an issue with it getting stuck in her hair, the stroller, toys or other really important things such as, um, clothes. Well, bad luck would have it, not only did the silly putty stick to her clothes, it stuck to the butt of my pants – my black pants. I discovered this pink blob on my ass when I got home from dinner. At least I didn’t walk around all day with it stuck to me.

Use WD-40 and rubbing alcohol to remove silly puttyInstructions from Crayola and other sources on the internet suggest scraping off the excess, then spray with WD-40 to miraculously rub off the remaining silly putty. Then use rubbing alcohol if any is left.

I tried this on J’s pants first since they were $5 at Target. Two big blobs on the back of her pants. This was my trial run so I didn’t take any pictures except the before and after. As you can see, no silly putty remains, just two giant oily looking stains. I sprayed the WD-40 directly onto the silly putty and then watched in horror as the oily substance spread to a size twice as big as the silly putty. Dammit.

Silly Putty Stained Pants

Before and After using WD-40 to remove Silly Putty. Luckily these are J’s pants that cost $5 at Target. Yes, she will wear them again. Yes, I am the parent who dresses their child in stained clothes. No, I have no qualms about it.

Silly Putty Spot Black Pants

I don’t have anything stuck to me, do I?

Well, that’s not good. But, my pants are black and now I know NOT to spray the WD-40 directly onto the silly putty. So here’s attempt number two of operation “don’t ruin your pants more than they are already ruined.”

First, I scraped off the excess silly putty with my fingernail. I didn’t want to use a knife because I think that stretches the fabric even more than my nail. And I could be more precise in my removal. Be careful not to squish the scraped bits of silly putty into the clothes again!

Silly Putty - Black Pants - Scraped

On the left is the original blob of silly putty. On the right is how it looked after I scraped it with my nail.

IMPORTANT! Before using the WD-40, I put a towel in the leg of my pants underneath the silly putty. You don’t want WD-40 to seep into the front of your clothes! Then I sprayed WD-40 into my bathroom sink. I dipped my finger into it and gently dabbed it onto the silly putty. I was very careful not to use too much. It’s oily and it spreads quickly. I let it sit for about a minute, then I scraped it with my fingernail. I got quite a bit of silly putty off using this method. It’s difficult to tell from the photo.

Removing Silly Putty from clothes with WD-40

The left blob has WD-40 on it. The right photo was taken after I scraped it with my fingernail.

Getting better but still needs work. I repeated the above step (WD-40, sit for a minute, scrape). Still not good enough. I turned my pants inside out and saw that the silly putty was visible all the way through the material. Again, dab WD-40, let it sit, scrape if off (on the inside of the pants). I turned the pants right-side-out again and it looked even better. As a last step I decided to use rubbing alcohol. I poured it on and scraped away the last bits of silly putty. Here are the results.

Removing Silly Putty After WD-40 and scraping

You can barely see the silly putty stain. You can really see where I’ve stretched, scraped and abused my pants. Hopefully washing will help.

My pants are rayon, nylon and spandex. I tossed them into the wash. Unfortunately, they are “lay flat to dry”, so I had to wait overnight to see if my pants were salvaged or if I really bought a $44 dollar egg of silly putty.

The verdict?

Silly Putty - After WashingBoo!! There is a stain from the WD-40 and a shadow of silly putty is visible. Pants are now in the donation pile. I will now be very careful when I give J silly putty. I definitely won’t do it when she is sitting in a booth next to me, where silly putty can roll under my tush.

 

 

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Sweet & Sour PorkA little while back, I made Sweet and Sour Pork because I had an extra pork tenderloin on hand. No, it’s not as strange as it sounds. I made Simply Recipes’ Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce and I only used one of the tenderloins that came in the package. I always forget that they usually sell them in pairs. They’re so squished up in the vacuum sealed package that you can’t tell what you’re buying! BTW, that recipe is DELICIOUS and easy. I will be making it when we have company over for dinner because it looks like it took a lot of effort but it doesn’t.

Back to the stir fry…So I had a pork tenderloin and decided to make one of Curt’s favorite dishes. As I Googled recipes, I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I modified this Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe. I like to put a lot of veggies in my stir fry so that is the main modification from the original (aside from the fact that I’m using “the other white meat”). I didn’t account for the increase in volume of ingredients compared to the amount of sauce. For me this wasn’t a problem, but Curt said it needed more sauce. Yes, he’s a sauce man.

In the recipe below, I’m doubling the amount of sauce from the original. If you think it’s too saucy, well, you can suck it. HA.

First I took my tenderloin and cut it into 1″ cubes. I put it in a bowl with the egg white and cornstarch. I let it hang out on the counter while I cut up the vegetables and measured out the other ingredients.

Sweet & Sour Pork - TenderloinSweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Marinade

Sweet & Sour Pork - Sauce

You will have twice as much sauce as seen here.

I mixed the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt and brown sugar in a measuring cup. Remember, I should have doubled the recipe (which I did in the list below). Your measuring cup will be twice as full – yep, that’s double.

Then I cut up an onion, red pepper, celery, and garlic. I grated the ginger with a micro-plane.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Chopped Vegetables

I busted my wok out of the depths of my cupboards and got it nice and hot. I added the oil, tested the temperature with a splat of water and then added half of my pork. After a minute I turned the pork and let it cook another minute or so. The idea is just to sear, not thoroughly cook the pork.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Saute in Wok

Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half of the pork. The amount of oil in the ingredient list is a guideline and you will probably need more. I had to add more oil for the second batch of pork and then more oil for the vegetables.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Seared

The first time you cook the pork, the idea is to get it nice and crusty on the outside, not cooked through.

Once the second batch of pork was done, I turned the heat down to medium and sautéed the onions and celery for a few minutes, then I added the red pepper, garlic and ginger. After a few more minutes I added the pineapple pieces and sauce.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Vegetable Saute

Crank the heat and put the pork and any juices on the plate back into the wok. Cook for a few minutes until the pork is done…which the USDA now says is an internal temperature of 145°F. At this temperature your pork will be a little pink. If the sauce looks too runny, add a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Vegetable Sautee

Serve over rice. I sprinkled some chopped chives on top of mine because I thought it needed some color.

Sweet & Sour Pork

The recipe is below. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. The least you can do is buy antibiotic and hormone-free pork.

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: American-Asian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of pork tenderloin, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 organic egg white
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons organic cornstarch (plus 1 tablespoon if sauce is too thin)
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
  • ½ cup juice from the canned pineapple
  • ½ cup organic white vinegar
  • ½ cup organic ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic vegetable oil
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks organic celery, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon organic minced garlic – about 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh organic ginger
  • 2 tsp Organic Chives or Scallions for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1. Combine the pork, egg white, salt and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir to coat the pork evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar in a measuring cup or bowl.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok on high until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Add the oil and swirl around the wok. Add half of the pork in one layer. Fry until the bottoms are browned, about a minute. Flip the pork and cook another minute. The pork is not cooked, we’re just searing. Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half using the same method. Add more oil to the pan if it looks dry. It’s ok if there are bits of the coating stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and add the onion and celery. Fry for a minute then add the bell pepper, garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute and add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce.
  5. Turn the heat to high after adding the sauce, then add the pork and juices back into the wok. Simmer for several minutes, until the pork is cooked.Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature. Add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin.
  6. Serve over organic rice and top with chopped chives or scallions.

 

Local Tap House & Kitchen in Oceanside, CA

**UPDATE 4/16/15** I can happily say this place is still excellent! We have been here several times since I first posted this review and it is one of my favorites.


Last night Curt, J and I went to Local Tap House & Kitchen in Oceanside. The food, drinks and atmosphere were great and we’ll be going back soon.

Pink and Billy Idol

I never thought about it until tonight…Billy Idol might be Pink’s father.

Recently opened this spring, Local Tap House is one of several new restaurants bringing the local gourmet foodie movement to North County – thank god! They have lots of beers on tap (hence the name), a full bar, upscale food at a reasonable price AND lots of TVs for watching sports. They also play great music – I heard Billy Idol, Pink and Bad Religion coming over the speakers (negative points for playing REM, but no place is perfect).

Local Tap House Pomegranate MartiniI started off with a pomegranate martini and Curt ordered red wine. No, we didn’t drink any of the beers on tap. It’s on the list for next time. My drink was refreshing and not too sweet. It had several pomegranate seeds at the bottom which were juicy and vodka-soaked by the time I ate them.

Local Tap House - Deep Fried Pickles

We devoured the pickles like a swarm of locusts.

We ordered the Deep Fried Bread & Butter Pickles as a starter. As you can see by the photos, we devoured them. After picking the lasts bits off of the plate, Curt declared, “Mmmm, I ate your crumbs.” Okaaaaaay. They were served on a light bed of greens with a smear of spicy sauce beneath. It may have had some chipotle in it. There were two other dips. One tasted like dill (almost like tartar sauce) and the other was a spicy habeñero sauce. Shame on me for not remembering the exact description on the menu but I’m still working on this whole “write a review” thing. J loves dill pickles but she wasn’t a fan of these. No problem, more for me!

For our main courses I had scallops, Curt had chicken pot pie (see, I wasn’t lying in my other post when I said it’s his favorite) and J had chicken fritters with fries. The chicken fritters were “nuggets” but not of the golden arches variety. They were whole, white meat chicken, lightly seasoned and screaming hot (temperature). The fries were not hot. Normally this would be a bad thing but when serving a kid, they were the perfect temperature. J loved the chicken and hand-cut fries. It would make a good appetizer for adults.

Local Tap House - Chicken Pot PieThe chicken pot pie was a generous size and served with a side of sauteed vegetables. Curt didn’t eat the side veggies, but I took them home and just polished them off! They were great left over. I tasted his pot pie and it was very good.

LocalTapHouse - ScallopsMy scallops were served over garlic udon noodles with bacon, peas and mushrooms, and a fried egg. At $17, I thought my dish was extremely cheap for seafood. When I got it, I saw there were two large scallops and that’s when I realized why my dish was not $30. There weren’t a lot of scallops but the twins were delicious. I took some of the noodles home and they made great left overs too.

We wrapped up the meal with deconstructed smores served in a mason jar. While the presentation was beautiful, I don’t think it’s a practical way to serve this dessert, as it was really difficult to dig down to the bottom and get the crushed graham crackers. Luckily we had a clean appetizer plate left on the table so we dumped everything out and were able to dive right in. Salted caramel ice cream, fudgey melty chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers were a sweet ending to a great dinner.

At just over $100 including tax and tip, this was actually a reasonably priced and complete meal for us: 3 adult drinks, 1 kid drink, 1 appetizer, 1 kid’s meal, 2 entrees and dessert.

LTH’s web site is under development. You can see it here or find them on Facebook.

308 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, California
(760) 547-1469

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